I had been to a gig at a local music venue at which the bouncer had nearly not let me in because of my little micro four thirds camera. He asked me if it was “professional”, which apparently means anything with interchangeable lenses. Through a combination of playing dumb and genuine confusion I got in anyway, but there was no way I was going to risk it again. My fiancée and I had bought tickets for us and her parents to see Christine and the Queens at the same venue a couple of weeks later.
The Agfa Silette has a 45 mm lens with apertures in full stops from 2.8 to 22, and four shutter speeds: 1/125, 1/60, 1/30 and bulb. It’s also zone focus, has no light meter, and is probably the least “professional” camera I own, and therefore ideal for my urge to stick it to the man. It can also be a bit awkward ergonomically, as there’s not even a hint of a grip and the shutter release is a lever that seems to travel for miles.
I actually love it though. It weighs nothing and fits in my jacket pocket. The lens is fast enough for most purposes, and anything faster would be useless with zone focusing. It’s also pretty sharp, and magically seems to hit focus anyway, despite what I always assume is terrible guesswork. It was a gift, too, so it means something to me.
I had meant to get some faster film, but ended up picking up a roll of Ilford HP5+ in a rush from a pharmacy on the way to the concert. I got past security without incident and sat down. We were quite far from the stage, so I focussed a little short of infinity, set the exposure to f/2.8, 1/30 and pretty much left it there, as my 400 ISO film needed as much light as it could get. I happily snapped away, trying the occasional long exposure leaning on my knee. Halfway through I was cursing myself for not picking up another roll. I had only four shots left. For an encore, Chris came and sang something intimate from the balcony, about 3 metres from me. I took my last shot. Someone put their phone right between me and her face. Life goes on.
As my shots were unmetered and pushing the film, I decided to stand develop my film, which as far as I’m concerned means it magically doesn’t care about film speed. I’ve got it to work before, but this time development was a bit uneven. Because of the massive contrast between a lit stage and the unlit backs of the audience’s heads, large areas are black. What isn’t black is pretty grainy, but I’m actually pleased with how they turned out.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the pictures too. You can find me on Instagram, posting fewer film images than I would really like.
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